The context of Birtukan’s transgression and The nature of EPRDF


Adal Isaw

 January 8, 2009


Many of the treasonous violations by the opposition groups, leading into the 2005 parliamentary election of Ethiopia should be indelibly ingrained in our history, not for the sake of a vendetta but for its life saving learning experience.  It is a lesson that we call on any time to avoid a blood spill in the heat of an acrimonious political contest.  Remember, as people and a country, we have not yet ventured out that far, to reach the spheres of modern and civil political discourse in order to fully avoid unwanted political wrangling.  


Ethiopia’s acrimonious political contest therefore should only be resolved by utilizing the Constitution-via judges who interpret the letter of the law as it is inked.  Of course, there will be many differing interpretations but the majority of the judges will have the last say, and getting over the differences and pursuing another round of peaceful political contest should follow.  Why should this be the norm?  And, why should those who vehemently disagree with the letter of the Constitution continue to be peaceful?  Because, democracy works better in peace than in chaotic times. 


In a true democracy, the minority stands to lose and those who stand to lose are expected to be as committed as those who stand to gain, in carrying out the choices that are otherwise contrary to theirs’, so that, their future voice as part of the majority is protected reciprocally.  In a way, a commitment by the minority to carry out the wishes of the majority in and itself becomes a worthwhile strategic interest. Besides, there is an avenue within the Constitution that may be used by those who disagree in its letter to amend its amendable part with another letter of the law, if the need for a change dictates.


The need to change the amendable part of our Constitution, however, should be preceded by the need to fundamentally change the treasonous political behavior of some opposition groups.  Till now, some opposition groups are still scornful of our Constitution, and some even contend its legitimacy and are vowing to dismantle it right after getting power by accoutering themselves with it.  This kind of political behavior doesn’t suit well with our cumbersome burden to bring a lasting peace and a sustainable development.  It is this background that should serve as a context to fully comprehend the re-arrest of Birtukan Mediksa.


The ganging up against a people; the willingness to sacrifice ten thousands if not millions Ethiopians for political expediency; the scornful and denigrating practices against the Constitution and a legitimate government, are the few from the many treasonous deeds that we should bear in mind, when a lone citizen becomes so contemptuous by feeling invincible to the rule of law, as a result of riding high on the emotional fervor of those few and vociferous crowd of the Diaspora.


Birtukan’s contempt therefore cannot be seen out of this context.  It is this context of frame where she wants her political picture to hang in, and, she should have known better that no state lives to lead without exercising its legitimate power with some degree of boldness.  Awkwardness and irresolute stance is simply the sign of a weak government.  Ethiopia needs no wimpy government and EPRDF is not one.  EPRDF is not awkward and irresolute about the nature of the opposition groups that are especially bent to destroy the Constitution and run over the rule of law.  Call the re-arrest of Birtukan anything you want, from “unnecessary” to “unwise,” EPRDF cannot be clearer on the issue of safeguarding the Constitution and the rule of law. 


Few critics call up on EPRDF to be wary of the consequent of re-arresting Birtukan, expecting an un-paralleled chaotic situation, thereby making Birtukan’s effrontery a legitimate political issue of contention that EPRDF has to be fearful about.  Why should EPRDF allow a transgressing politician to have a political capital by shying away from upholding the law?  As far as EPRDF is concerned, upholding the law is one thing and pardoning another.  A needed national harmony may come as a result of a pardon but not as a result of shying away from upholding the law.  You cannot possibly shy away from executing the law of the land while those who are transgressing it are enjoying a destructive limelight at the expense of an Ethiopian life. Half-heartedness in upholding the law of the land should be avoided with no question asked.


The Constitution is thus our best possible hope that we all should abide by for it is the instrument of choice that we use to carry ourselves into our inevitable developed state.  Abiding by the Constitution is what is required of all citizens no matter what their perception is.  We are either abiding it or foul out from participating in the peaceful transformation of Ethiopia. Safeguarding the Constitution from contempt is therefore unlike any other duty that we should be bound to carry.  After all, it is what is holding the context of Birtukan’s transgression and the nature of EPRDF.